News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Brewer girls basketball coach Ricky Allen, right, tapes the left ankle of senior Andrea Crawford. After a season full of evening games, Allen's Lady Patriots will play their regional semifinal at 9 a.m.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Brewer girls basketball coach Ricky Allen, right, tapes the left ankle of senior Andrea Crawford. After a season full of evening games, Allen's Lady Patriots will play their regional semifinal at 9 a.m.

Getting an early start
Brewer girls, Austin boys, E. Lawrence girls get morning call for regional games

By Mark Edwards 340-2461

Brewer High's girls basketball team will play at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Northwest Regional, but the early wake-up call doesn't bother Lady Patriots senior Courtney Scott.

"I'm a morning person," she said with a laugh.

Even so, Scott and her teammates face an unusual situation with the scheduling of this week's regional at Wallace State-Hanceville.

Most girls varsity games begin between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. during the regular season, while boys varsity games start between 7 and 8 p.m. But during the five-day regional, some teams will face morning tip-offs.

With 48 girls and boys teams playing for 12 spots in the state tournament the following week in Birmingham, organizers have little choice than to use the whole day in scheduling.

Each of the five days will begin with a 9 a.m. game, followed by another contest scheduled to start at either 10:30 or 10:40 a.m. For each of the first three days, play won't end until after 9 p.m., while it won't end until after 7 p.m. during the last two days, which feature the regional finals games.

Three area teams will play at least one morning game — Brewer girls, East Lawrence girls and Austin boys.

Brewer's girls will face Wenonah in a Class 5A semifinal game Tuesday at 9 a.m., while Austin's boys and Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa will tip off their 6A game at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. East Lawrence's girls will face Haleyville in a 4A game at 9 a.m. Thursday.

East Lawrence coach Candace Byrd said she appreciates at least one benefit to playing in the morning. A former star at Tanner High, she remembers what it was like to wait for an evening game at regionals.

"When you have to wait all day, the nerves start to take over," she said, laughing. "As a player, I would get anxious and wish I could go ahead and play earlier in the day.

"Also, for those later games, the gym is packed. It isn't packed when you play in the morning."

Austin coach Demond Garth and have Black Bears have done well in morning games in recent years.

They've played morning regional semifinal contests in 2002, '04 and '05, winning all three times.

"We'll get the guys breakfast in the morning," Garth said. "The bus will leave at 8 a.m. The biggest thing in this situation is to keep everything as close to normal as possible."

To prepare for another morning game, Garth had his team practice Monday at 10:30 a.m. The players didn't miss class because school was out for Presidents Day.

"By us not having school Monday, we were able to practice in the morning, and that helps," Garth said.

Brewer girls coach Ricky Allen has focused on that morning tip-off since the beginning of the season.

Allen scheduled the Lady Patriots in Hoover's Big Orange Classic earlier in the year because that tournament would allow them to play morning games.

"We've practiced early, and we've played early," Allen said. "Every time we had an early practice or a game that began at an odd-ball time, we told our players that it would help us with the 9 o'clock game at Wallace State."

For East Lawrence, 9 a.m. won't be so early. After all, Byrd has had her team work out from 6 to 8 a.m. on days when school wasn't in session.

So when the Lady Eagles practiced Monday at 9 a.m., it wasn't much of an adjustment.

"It was a piece of cake," she said.

Byrd plans to have her team leave East Lawrence High for Hanceville at 6:30 a.m.

"I've stressed to our team that they need to get plenty of rest and mentally prepare themselves for playing early," Byrd said.

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